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Lesson nine only three more days

Lesson nine only three more days 1. My Berlin diary for december 2 was limited to four words. 2. “only three more days!” 3. Next day, december 3: “ …the foreign office still holding up my passport and exit visa, which worries me. Did my last broad-cast from Berlin tonight.” 4. “ berlin, december 4 : got my passport and offical permission to leave tomorrow. Nothing to do now but pack.” 5. There was one other thing to do. For weeks I had thought over how to get my diaries safely out of Berlin. At some moments I had thought I ought to destroy them before leaving. There was enough in them to get me hanged – if the Gestapo ever discovered them. 6. The morning I got my passport and exit visa I realized I had less than twenty-four hours to figure out a way of getting my Berlin diaries out. I again thought of destroying them, but I wanted very much to keep them, if I could. Suddenly, later that morning, the solution became clear. It was risky, but life in the third reich had always been risky. It was worth a try. 7. I laid out the diaries in two big steel suitcases I has bought. Over them I placed a numbet of my broadcast scripts, each page of which had been stamped by the military and civilian censors as passed for broadcast. On top I put a few General staff maps I had picked up from friends. Then I phoned the Gestapo Headquarters. I had a couple of suitcases full of my dispatches, broadcasts and notes that I wanted to take out of the country, I said. As I was flying off early the next day, there would be no time for Gestapo officials at the airfield to go over the contents. Could they take a lool now, if I brought them over; and if they approved, put a Gestapo seal on the suitcases so I wouldn’t be held up at the airport? 8. “ bring them over,” the official said. 9. After I hung up, I had some more doubts. Wasn’t I tempeing fate: how could these hard-nosed Nazi detectives help but smell out the diaries beneath my broadcasts? That would be the end of me. Maybe I had just better begin to flush

them down the toilet. On the other hand … I calculated that the secret police would seize the General Staff maps. That’s why I had put them there on top. Customs officials always felt better if they found something in your bags to seize, and so would these Gestapo officials. 10. Then they would look at the layers of my broadcast scripts and I would point to the censors’ stamps of approval on each page. That would make a Gestapo official sit up and take notice. It would give me prestige in his eyes, or at least make me less suspect, foreigner though I was. I was going to gamble on their inspection ending there, before they dug deeper to my diaries. The feared Gestapo, I knew, was really not very efficient. 11. Everything at Gestapo headquarters worked out as I had planned. The two officials who handled me seized at once my General Staff maps. I apologized. I had forgotten, I said, that I had put them in. they had been every valuable to me in reporting the army’s great victories. I realized I shouldn’t take out General Staff maps. 12. “ what else you’ve got here?” one of the men said, putting his paw on the pile of papers. 13. “ the texts of my broadcast,” I said, “ … every page, as you can see, stamped

for approval by the High Command and two ministries.” 14. Both men studied the censor’s stamps. I could see they were impressed. They put their hands in a little deeper, each man now looking into a suitcase. Soon they would reach the diaries. I now wished I had not come. I felt myself beginning to sweat. I had deliberately got myself into this jam. What a fool! 15. “ you reported on the German army?” one of the agents looked up to ask. 16. “ all the way to Paris,” I said. “ A great army it was, and a great story for me. It will go down in history!” 17. That settled everything. They put half a dozen Gestapo seals on my suitcases. I tried not to thank them too much. Outside, I called a taxi and drove away.

18. The last entry I would ever make in my diary from Hitler’s Berlin: 19. December 5. – it was still dark and a storm was blowing when I left for the

airport this morning . . . 20. As my taxi drove to the airport I wondered if my plane could take off in such weather. If the flight was canceled it might mean I would have to stay for weeks. 21. At the customs there was literally a herd of officials. I opened the two pages with my personal belongings, and after pawing through them two officials chalked a sign of approval on them. I noticed they were from the Gestapo. They pointed to the two suitcases full of my diaries. 22. “ open them up!” one of them said rudely. 23. “ I can’t,” I said. “thry’re sealed – by the Gestapo.” 24. I felt grateful that there were at least a half-dozen seals. The two officials talked in whispers for a moment. 25. “ where were those bags sealed?” one of them snapped. 26. “ at Gestapo Headquarters,” I said. 27. This information impressed them. But still they seemed suspicious. 28. “ just a minute,” one said. His colleague picked up the phone at a table behind them. Obvisously he was checking. The man hung up, walked over to me, and without a word chalked the two suitcases. I was free at last to get to the ticket counter to check my luggage. 29. “ where to?” a Luftthansa man asked. 30. “ Lisbon.” I said. 31. The thought of the German airline deliverring my diaries to me safely in Portual, beyond the reach of the last german official who could seize them, txtremly pleased me. 32. The airport tower kept postponing the departure of our plane. I went to the restaurant and had a second breakfast. I really was not hungry. But I had to do something to relieve the tension. I started to glance at the morning papers I had bought automatically on arriving at the airport. 33. “ I don’t have to read any of this trash anymore in the great third reich. The sense of relief I felt was tremendous. I had noly to hold out this one more day, and the whole nightmare for me would be over, though it would go on and on for

millions of others. 34. We had survived the Nazi horror and its mindless suppression of rthe human spirrt. But also the Czechs and now the Poles. Even for the great mass of Germans who supported Hitler, I felt a sort of sorrow. They did not seem to realize what the poison of Nazism was doing to them.


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